The Play that Goes Wrong: A review

CFRT Logo BlackandPlumbOn any given night lately, Cape Fear Regional Theatre can be found with a packed audience roaring with laughter. On stage, everything is going wrong. While in any normal play circumstance, this would be a disaster, here its a beautifully crafted, well-acted body of art. This time, everything that goes wrong feels oh so right. 
While CFRT usually puts on a good show, this one is an exceptional work of comedy. Farce is always hard, according to its director, Laura Josepher, but the actors in The Play That Goes Wrong have hit the mark wonderfully. From the fake snow to a lost dog, each mishap during the scenes brings a new bout of laughter from the audience that may keep them laughing for days after. 
Sometimes in plays it is easy to pick out key actors who steal the show; it would be hard to say any one actor out-performed his or her counterparts. Jonathan-Judge Russo, a returning actor to the stage at Cape Fear Regional Theatre, and Charlie Turner are seemingly meant for farce. The timing of jokes, expressions and line delivery was on-point for both of these actors. Mitchell Stephens, who plays in the show as the "director" and is the choreographer for the play as well, embodies a worried, at-wits-end play director that at some point seems to give up on trying to keep his show together. Matthew Stuart Jackson, Amber French and Cerina Johnson are ridiculous, as needed by their parts, and will keep any scene filled with laughter from the pure bad acting their parts demand. 
The props and stage decorations for The Play That Goes Wrong were probably either the least impressive part, only because the bar was set so high by its actors, or perhaps one of the most. While this may seem contradictory, in a play pretending to be a play where everything goes wrong, it is very hard to tell what is intended to be roughly made and not hit the quality that the production company usually strives to hit. Now, the disintegration and destruction of the set are absolutely hilarious, well-timed and 100 percent intentional. This will provide a few enjoyable surprises for any show-goer. Again, however, it in no way outshines any of the actors' performances. 
The Play That Goes Wrong is a beautiful, non-stop-laughter-inducing performance. If ever there was a time to visit the local theatre, now is the time. If facial pain from laughing and tight stomach muscles in the morning are the best course of treatment, it is definitely the prescription. 
Note from the editor: The Play That Goes Wrong is being put on at Cape Fear Regional Theatre until Sept. 24.

Hours extended to see Dürer to Picasso printmaking exhibit at Rosenthal Gallery

10a4th Friday in September is an opportunity for the public to visit the Dürer to Picasso printmaking, an exhibit that runs until Sept. 30. Rosenthal Gallery, on the campus of Fayetteville State University, is extending its gallery hours for the public to view Dürer to Picasso, a printmaking exhibit from the Ackland Art Museum’s print collection in Chapel Hill, North Carolina during September’s 4th Friday evening.

From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., on September 22, Rosenthal Gallery will remain open and free to the public to see thirty-six original prints by the most recognized European artists from the late fifteenth to the early twentieth century.

Original works by Albrecht Dürer, Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt van Rijn, Francisco de Goya, William Blake, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Käthe Kollwitz, Salvador Dali and Vincent van Gogh, among others, demonstrate the power of the print media to document events, spread ideas,and influence public opinion.

An additional viewing time and a lecture have been scheduled for the public on Saturday, Sept. 30, the last day of the exhibit. The gallery will be open between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the lecture will take place between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. in the gallery.

Professor Soni Martin’s presentation references the artists in the exhibit, their influences and little-known facts about how the artists pushed the boundaries of their artistic expression in innovative ways.

Printmaking, the process of reproducing the same image from a matrix (metal, stone, wood, and other materials), allows artists to create hundreds, if not thousands, of reproductions of the same image.

Considered collectible fine art, each work printed from the same matrix is considered a limited edition original. Due to printing multiples of an image, the medium is valued by artists as a way to share their work with a much larger audience, including international audiences.

Valued by the public, prints are an affordable way to collect the work of an artist or invest in original art and encourage the broad dissemination of knowledge, spread an artist’s expressive vision, and document works in other media like painting and sculpture for a wide public.

In the centuries before photography, prints then became some of the most effective conveyors of contemporary ideas, knowledge and art.10b

The exhibit was installed chronologically by decade. The gallery begins with Andrea Mantegna, an early Renaissance artist from the 1400s. The last print hanging sequentially in the gallery is by Salvadore Dali, a surrealist artist in the modern period.

Entering the gallery, visitors will have to stop to look at the draftsmanship of Hendrick Goltzius, a Dutch artist who lived between 1558 and 1617. Influenced by printmakers Lucas van Leyden and the well-known Albrecht Dürer, Goltzius takes the art of cross-hatching with a line to a heightened level of describing volume when representing the figure.

In the engraving titled The Followers of Cadmus Devoured by a Dragon, 1588, the details of the line work swell and taper around the figures and in the background to create incredible volume and fullness. Goltzius's subjects and handling of the figure are moving us away from the conceptual period of the Renaissance towards the drama of the Baroque period.

There are several overarching themes when looking at the works from the Renaissance, Baroque to the Romantic period compared to the modern prints.

Artists like Albrecht Dürer to Rembrandt focus on the effects of light on a subject and in the pictorial space, whereas modern artists from the post-Impressionists to mid-modernism focused on the expressive quality of the mark to evoke emotion instead of describing the figure.

Seeing the small black and white etching by Van Gogh titled Portrait of Doctor Gachet, from 1890, is very different than seeing his colorful paintings. Yet we get to experience the artist's hand in mark-making, how he expresses a type of shorthand in the line quality to evoke meaning in a portrait of his doctor created only six weeks before his death.

Due to postmodern sensibilities, many of the early works are more conceptual than emotional but important to see as a way to understand the evolution of European culture. Yet, there are many works in the exhibit, especially from the Romantic period, that easily move you emotionally.

For example, Käthe Kollwitz used the print medium as a powerful instrument of political loyalty to her anti-war and anti-violence position in the early years of the 1900s.

Her large etching titled The Battlefield, from 1907, depicts a mother searching for her dead son in the soft light of a lantern among a field of corpses. The genius of Kollwitz is to portray the rawness and brutality of the aftermath of a war battle and personal loss, instead of depicting the chaos and numbing of the actual battle taking place.

Kollwitz is one of only two women in the exhibit. The other woman in the exhibit is Mary Cassatt, an American who lived from 1844 to 1926. She lived her adult life in Paris as an artist among the post-Impressionists.

One of Cassatt's contributions to the history of art is her preoccupation with a genre that had not been investigated by a woman artist: the private space of women, telling the story of motherhood, women and children living and growing together.

Like several other post-Impressionists, Cassatt was influenced by the ukiyo-e style of the Japanese print. Another artistic contribution was interpreting her subject(s) only using flat planes of flat color, bright hues, asymmetric compositions, drastic foreshortening, decorative patterns, fine lines and simplified figures.

Visitors to the exhibit will find information panels next to each work. Visitors should plan on taking the time to read each brief panel since they contextualize the artist in their period and share the story about their subject and its relevance in history.

FSU Professor Dwight Smith coordinated with the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the exhibit to come to FSU and would like to acknowledge Dana Cowen, Sheldon Peck Curator for European and American Art before 1950, for curating this exceptional exhibit to share with the Fayetteville area.

“This collaboration underscores the importance of fostering cultural exchange and enriching the artistic experiences between universities and agencies,” Smith said.

Rosenthal Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information or if groups would like to schedule a time to come to Rosenthal Gallery, please contact Professor Dwight Smith at or call 910-672-1795.

Cape Fear Studios hosts exhibit of miniature artwork

14bCape Fear Studios Miniature Sculpture and Art Challenge exhibit will be on display through Aug. 22 in the Main Gallery, located at 148 Maxwell Street in Fayetteville.
The exhibit is an interesting and unique collection of mini artworks from local artists.
The exhibit was judged by local professional artist Leslie Pearson, who selected the two Best of Show Awards — one for 3D sculpture and one for 2D art.

Amber Tyler-Elliott was awarded Best of Show 2D for her Intaglio (print making) “Air Potato Leaf Beetle.” Austin Sheppard was awarded Best of Show 3D for his cast bronze, found object piece “Self-Contained Man.”

“I really appreciated the opportunity to jury this miniature exhibition,” Pearson said.

“As someone who prefers to work on a larger scale, it’s inspiring to see the quiet restraint that can be achieved in miniature,” she said. “Each painting and sculpture require the viewer to get up close and personal with the work.”

Sheppard’s piece was the winner of the 3-D category.

“I was drawn to the small figure of a man weighted by chains. A powerful visual that will no doubt resonate with many people.”

“Amber Tyler-Elliott, the 2-D winner’s postage-stamp sized print of an Air Potato Leaf Beetle, an invasive species, is the perfect example of how an artist can speak volumes within the confines of a small space — this beetle alters plant communities by displacing native species, and changing community structure,” Pearson said.w

“Perhaps this is a commentary on our current grappling with AI or other perceived threats. Overall, the exhibition is a treat for Fayetteville to enjoy.”

Pearson is a multimedia artist who pursues art as a studio artist, community arts advocate and educator. In 1998, Pearson earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Southeast Missouri State University.14c

She was the Assistant Director of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri and co-curator of Gallery 100 and the Lorimier Gallery in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In 2000, she earned a master’s degree in Museum Studies at Newcastle University in England and completed an internship at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland, United Kingdom.

In 2011, she earned an Master of Fine Arts in Textile Design at East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design in Greenville, North Carolina.
Pearson has taught at various colleges and universities and served on the Board of Trustees at the Arts Council of Fayetteville Cumberland County, and on the Board of Directors for the Surface Design Association.
Pearson exhibits her work nationally and internationally.

For more information on the Miniature Sculpture and Art Challenge exhibit, visit or call 910-433-2986.

How the arts benefit academic performance

19aThe cost of products and services continues to rise and organizations everywhere have increasingly been feeling the pressure to reevaluate budgets. It’s no different in school districts nationwide, with school boards making difficult decisions about which programs to keep and which will have to go in order to save money.

Music and arts programs often are the first to be cut when school budgets are tightened. The organization Save the Music says that, during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, per-pupil spending in public schools decreased by approximately 7 percent across the country. This led to a trickle-down effect that resulted in the cancellation of art and music programs. Since then, many districts have continued to cut arts programs due to budget limitations. COVID-19 also did little to help the situation.

Art program cutbacks are rarely met with open arms, and that resistance has a lot to do with the positive effects such offerings have on students’ academic performance.
Better test performance

Numerous studies have found a correlation between early introduction to music education and a number of benefits for children. Music education can help develop communication skills, brain plasticity, language, and motor skills. A study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles used a database of more than 25,000 middle and high school students. The researchers found that students involved in arts performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with lower arts involvement.

Furthermore, data from 2015 from The College Board, which produces the SAT, found students who took four years of arts and music classes while in high school scored an average of 92 points higher on their SATs than students who only took one-half year or less.

Improved emotional states

In addition to better performance on tests, a review in Frontiers in Psychology examined several studies linking arts and aesthetic experiences with “broad improvements” in people’s emotional states. Those improvements included greater psychological and physical well-being.

Community involvement

Participation and even appreciation of the arts can have an impact as well. Researchers from the Department of Public Administration at the University of Illinois Chicago found that being an art curator or audience member leads to high levels of civic engagement and social tolerance.

The support and therapy company Evolve Treatment Centers reports that involvement in music and arts leads to overall higher GPAs, higher scores in math and reading and a reduced risk of behavioral problems and suspensions.
Music and arts education are important to students’ development. Keeping these programs alive in schools can benefit students in many ways.

Books that ‘Bookwatch’ would have featured

7aWhat books are you featuring on PBS-NC’s “North Carolina Bookwatch” this season?

I still get this question even though Bookwatch, the program about North Carolina books and authors that I hosted, ended its 23-year run almost two years ago.

Here are some of the North Carolina-related books and authors that might have been featured if the program had continued.

A favorite Bookwatch guest was Lee Smith, one of North Carolina’s favorite authors for almost a half-century. She always gives her readers a look at the interesting lives of compelling and often quirky characters.

Her latest, “Silver Alert: A Novel” is set in Key West and is full of those quirky characters like those Smith’s fans treasure. Herb is an 83-year-old wealthy and cranky man in Key West. He and a young manicurist take a wild ride around Florida in his treasured Porsche. Herb’s family reports him missing, and the resulting “silver alert” leads to the book’s conclusion.

With the hurricane season upon us, one book that would surely have been featured is “Fifteen Hurricanes That Changed the Carolinas: Powerful Storms, Climate Change, and What We Do Next,” by hurricane expert Jay Barnes.

Barnes gives a good background about the dangers hurricanes bring to our state. Then in separate chapters he covers some of the most memorable beginning with The Great Carolina Hurricane of 1752 and more recent ones such as Hugo (1989), Fran (1996), Floyd (1999), Matthew (2016), and Florence (2018).

In his latest book, “Lessons from North Carolina: Race, Religion, Tribe, and the Future of America,” UNC Law Professor Gene Nichol writes about the struggles of North Carolina’s poor and North Carolina’s exploitation and inattention to them. Taking on the role of an Old Testament prophet he condemns the ways the state’s powerful oppress the powerless.17b

The late UNC-Wilmington Professor Phillip Gerard wrote a series of articles for Our State magazine about North Carolina in different decades. His articles about the 1950s are the basis of “North Carolina in the 1950s: The Decade in Motion” published by Blair/Carolina Wren Press.

Gerard covers such topics as beach music, family visits to the local drive-in theater, the beginning of WUNC- TV, how four North Carolina A&T students sat down at Greensboro’s Woolworth’s whites-only lunch counter, noting their quiet courage and informing readers how rich and complicated the fifties were.

UNC Professor Daniel Wallace’s best-selling novel, “Big Fish,” and other novels have demonstrated that he is one of America’s great storytellers. His latest book, “This Isn’t Going to End Well: The True Story of a Man I Thought I Knew,” shows that he also can use those gifts to create compelling non-fiction.

His account of his relationship with his brilliant but troubled brother-in-law and great friend is powerful, moving and memorable.

De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s debut novel, “In West Mills,” introduced readers to the town and its residents in the 1940s. His new book, “Decent People,” begins in March 1976. Both books give readers a painful inside look at Black communities in northeastern North Carolina.

“Decent People,” opens: “Josephine Wright could have kissed the ground, she was so glad to arrive back at home in West Mills, North Carolina.”

Jo Wright was born and grew up in West Mills, but had lived in New York for 48 years. Now she was returning to West Mills to enjoy retirement, live in a cottage, and marry Olympus “Lymp” Seymore, “the man she had waited so long to find, someone she had known as a child.”

But Lymp has become a suspect in a recent murder.

Jo’s search for the real murderer finally concludes surprisingly, but only after the reader has learned the complex story of life in West Mills.

We may miss “Bookwatch,” but North Carolina writers have not missed a beat.

Editor’s note: D.G. Martin, a retired lawyer, served as UNC-System’s vice president for public affairs and hosted PBS-NC’s North Carolina Bookwatch for 23 seasons.

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